500 word challenge by Wiena Wiena@daxis.nl
Disclaimer:  The characters and situations of the TV program "Space" Above and Beyond" are the creations of Glen Morgan and James Wong, Fox Broadcasting and Hard Eight Productions, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

Saratoga's officers mess:

Captain Shane Vansen is frowning her eyebrows, as she looks at Lt. Cooper Hawkes who is sitting across the table. She gets more and more irritated as she observes her friend who is playing around with his knive.

"Hey Coop, are you trying to kill your food or what? I know this army chow isn't any good but heck it's not that bad?"

"Huh" Cooper looks up, "Did you say something?"

"Ah,… spit it out Coop, what's wrong with you? You've been behaving strangely the last couple of days?"

Cooper puts down his knive and thoughts are rambling through his mind.
Maybe I should ask Shane for advice, she's a woman after all. And the last time that I followed West's advise I got myself in troubles. "Shane could I ask you something."

"Shoot, but make haste, I've promised Damphy to meet up in the Tun."

"How do you know if a woman is interested in you?" a blush starts colouring his cheeks as he looks shyly away.

She has to supress a smile and replies "Is this meant in general or do have someone in particular in mind?"

Cooper bends over the table and lowers his voice.

" A few days ago,  I watched a new flight squadron board and I noticed one of the pilotes. She had the most beautiful hair that I ever saw on a person. It was kinda red, it looked like her hair was on fire. I must have been staring because she looked at me and gave me a smille that made my limbs go jelly. I was totally confussed and stumbled out as fast as I could."

"Poor Coop, you could have just returned the smile nothing bad would have happened from that."

"I know but how can I find out if she might be interested in me?" Cooper shifts uncomfortably around in his chair.

"Why don't ya try talking to her the next time you see her?"

Shane looks at the worried expression on her friend face and she feels sorry for him. He's still so young and unexperienced. She realizes he still has troubles dealing with the other sex.

"Yeah but what should I say? I mean what does a woman like to hear? You're a woman, what would you like to hear in a situation like this?"

Shane scratches her skull " Pfff, hard question Hawkes. Try not move to fast to soon, give her time, let her take the initiative. You will than soon enough know if she's interested or not."

"What do you mean by that?" the look on his face is now even more puzzled.

"I mean say something neutral like Hi I'm Cooper Hawkes saw you board the other day, how do like being at the Saratoga so far? It's non-threatening and gives her the choice if she wants to have a chat with you or not. If she answers really cold you know she's definetely not interested."

"Ah, I see, Oh God…, there she is." Cooper nearly crumbles in his seat. Shane turns around to have a look at the woman who just enters the mess.

She is looking at a woman with a normal posture and not someone she would call a natural beauty but Coop is right. Her hair is absolutely beautifull and surrounds her face like a soft curtain. She wonders if it's by nature or from a bottle.

She turns back and leans over to Coop, "This is your chance, she's alone, go talk to her."

"Mmm, don't know, what if I screw up?"

"Hell Coop are you a Marine or what, I think you rather battle a battalion of Chigs. Now go for it."

Shane sits back and turns her head as she watches the big Invitro making his way towards the counter.

"Hi, uhh…I saw you boarding the other day." Cooper feels his selfassurance crumble as he hears himself mumbling.
He hardly dears to look at her face. But as she doesn't anwer, he looks her in the eyes. She's waiting, her face expresionless.

"I'm Cooper, uhh I mean Cooper Hawkes."

"I know." her face lits up in a sudden smile and Cooper feels his legs go jelly again.

Helplessly he turns around looking for help from Shane but she just smiles broadly back at him.


500 word challenge by Jessi SkyeMcKellar@hotmail.com

Disclaimer: The characters and situations of the TV program "Space" Above and Beyond" are the creations of Glen Morgan and James Wong, Fox Broadcasting and Hard Eight Productions, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

"Come on, Shane, you have to eat."

She gave Cooper a small smile and took the hard roll he offered.  She wasn't hungry, but he was giving her that intense look, -- half pleading puppy, half pestering baby brother.  She'd never had either, so it was a look she found irresistible.  Besides, he was a good guy,  -- he didn't deserve to worry.

She took a bite as he watched, then another.  She even tasted her freeze-dried eggs to make him happy.  Mostly she sipped her coffee, wrapping her hands around the metal cup, trying to keep them warm.

Amazing, she thought.  Five days, and she was still alive.

She'd thought she'd lost him before.  The first time he'd said he couldn't get leave for Christmas, she'd heard the distance in his voice, the coolness, the lie. He should've been honest,  it would've been easier. Should've spared her the painful, drawn-out process --  the  dwindling letters, the missed calls, the broken promises.   Most of all, he should've spared her the death notice  she'd crumpled and tossed unread into the trash.

Why was she still on the list to be notified anyway? His last call had been over two years ago, telling her he'd been made Captain and was being reassigned.  She'd been proud, and happy, but she had known that was the end.  He'd told her he'd call.  She'd known he wouldn't.

She should have accepted it, should've let him go. By then the relationship, the love, had become so twisted it was almost unrecognizable.  The end should've been a relief.  Instead, she had hung on, fighting the inevitable.

He'd thought he was being kind.  She'd thought she was being strong.

She'd had no idea, no idea what it meant to be strong.  She still didn't.

Was being strong going to the funeral, looking at the casket, accepting the flag and medal they handed her as if she had the right?  Was it saying the goodbye that should've been said years ago, acknowledging that it hadn't been her fault, hadn't been his,  and forgiving them both?

Was it knowing she'd never ever see him again, no matter how far she traveled, no matter how hard she fought, and driving on in spite of it?

"Launch in twenty mikes.  Briefing in five."

She looked up, saw Nathan at the door and nodded. Cooper thrust a couple of rolls into his pocket,   shoved a huge spoonful of eggs into his mouth and chased it down with a huge swallow of coffee.

"You coming?"

"In a while," she smiled, giving him an encouraging nod. "You go ahead."

She didn't know.  Right now it was all she could do to eat her eggs and smile when her entire world had gone dark, when all she wanted was to clench everything inside herself and make sure nothing got out, ever again.

What did it matter, really? John was gone. Chiggy Von Richthoffen was dead.
Nothing mattered anymore.

She stood up.

Time to go to work.

The End
2/20/99 12:37:33 AM

500 word challenge by RiverRat sratliff@zoomnet.net

Disclaimer: The characters and situations of the TV program "Space" Above and Beyond" are the creations of Glen Morgan and James Wong, Fox Broadcasting and Hard Eight Productions, and have been used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.

It's probably a good thing I'm tired.  Otherwise I'd probably be wondering what's in this Salisbury steak.  Vansen set her tray on the table, slid into her chair, and dumped sugar into her coffee. 

The so-called Salisbury steak was even more tasteless than usual.

The rest of the Wildcards were grumbling about the food.  Shane said, "Look on the bright side.  At least it isn't that ham stuff."

Vanessa made a face.  "At least that ham stuff had a taste."

Paul replied, "Yeah, it was awful."

Nathan said, "If anyone has a horse missing, I think we found it."

Shane ignored the complaints.  Cooper didn't join in, but he wasn't eating much either.  Usually he scarfed everything on his tray.

"Coop?  You feeling all right?"

Cooper nodded.  "Yeah... just not hungry, that's all."

"Are you feeling alright?"

"Yeah, I toldja, I'm just not hungry."

Shane watched him return his barely-touched tray and leave the mess.

"What's with him?" Paul asked.

Vansen said, "I'm about to find out.  Anyone want this?"  When no one voiced a claim, she slid the tray into the rack by the door and ran a few steps to catch up with Cooper.  She didn't have to ask.  It had been a month, since the MacArthur, since Katie....

"Hey, Coop...."

He slowed his pace to wait for her.  "Yeah?"

"You have to let her go.  I'm not saying forget, you don't forget, but ... you're here.  You have to live."

"You talkin' about Katie or your mom and dad?"

Shane blinked away tears.  "All of them."

"How --"

She took a deep breath, remembering the chaos that had followed her parents' deaths... the red tape, the foster homes. 

"My sisters needed me.  There were things I had to do.  They were gonna split us up, and some moron got the idea we shouldn't go to the funeral.  I was fighting with the social workers and our foster parents all the time. I just tried to do what my parents would have done if they'd been there.  I guess after a while I just... got over it, you know?"

"Yeah.  Like now."

She nodded and replied sadly, "Like now."

"Do you think there's a heaven?"

Shane hesitated.  "I don't know for sure what I believe about that. But... I hope so."

"If there is, Katie has to be there.  She never had a chance to do anything wrong," Cooper said.  Then his voice cracked with bitter grief, "She never had a chance at all."

"She touched your life.  I mean, all of us, you live and you die and what's left except how you affect other people's lives?  Katie showed you what it's like to be a brother.  Part of a family.  She had a chance to do that, and what could be more important?  Because she became part of you, part of her will go on."

The End

500 word challenge by Carol storm@catchnet.com.au

Standard disclaimer... I have been borrowing M & W's characters, but I have safely returned them, until next time that is :-) All Feedback Welcomed Hondo

Okay it was hard enough writing the bloody thing without trying to cut in half.. So here it is, and please remember this is my virgin attempt at writing SAAB fanfic. But also please be honest, as I know it's not very good :-)

What Will Be

The Officers mess was all but deserted at such a late hour, shadowed in semi-darkness as the mighty Saratoga had switched to its night cycle.

Yet, two wakeful Wildcards sat, clandestinely, in the darkest corner, not really attempting to hide from anyone other than themselves.

Captain Shane Vansen, recently retrieved by an SAR crew from that godforsaken Chig planet that she and Phousse had been misplaced on for awhile, contemplated her companion Cooper Hawkes. Both of them had come for a similar catharses, yet they'd sat here for going on one hour and neither had breached the silence, neither had shattered the self erected barrier that surrounded them both.

Apprehension had kept them both silent. They knew all too well that once the words were spoken, once out into the light of day they could never be recalled. And if the words weren't uttered, well, then they could never be betrayed, only mistaken.

Yet, they needed this talk. Both would benefit so much, in their different ways, from this one on one interaction. They had to overcome this stumbling block for not only themselves but for each other, as they could no longer continue on as if everything was as it used to be, as if nothing had changed in the interim.

Vansen realized, in the dimness of their surroundings, that if she did not instigate their conversation it would never get off the ground and the cold hard truth might never sink in. Also the first steps that would begin the healing process would also be tied up in the traded dialogue.

Closing her eyes, she took a couple of deep breaths as she attempted to center herself to initiate that which must begin. Finding the courage buried in some deep, as yet untapped, reservoir she finally spoke.

"Coop, I'm really sorry" she stated nervously as her opening gambit.

As if his attention had been snatched from another reality he vaguely replied,

"Yeah right" then he asked rather puzzled "For what"?

"For not being here when you needed me the most, Coop. For leaving you to face it all, virtually on your own."

From a seemingly fragmental contemplation, his attention homed in on her as if allured to her by some magnetic surge, that just switched to overload. Yet still he said nothing. Silence.... She elaborated a bit more

"For not being able to help you through all your confusion, and pain".

She did not have to say what caused the pain as part of it was her, or rather her absence, her disappearance a short time ago. If she had not been missing at the time, she could have aided Coop through Phousse's disappearance. Reassured him that they *would* find Wang - alive, somehow, somewhere regardless of whether her words were practical or even reasonable, but they would be what Coop needed to hear at that moment in time, especially, oh yes she would definitely know the right way to comfort him (as inside he was like a lost, crying child unsure of what tomorrow would bring ) as his world shattered around him. As McQueen, his CO, his fellow InVitro his 'almost' father lay strapped to a stretcher being prepped for his transportation back to Earth. As he was being taken from them, from him, probably forever.... No if she had not been lost he would never have felt the lament of the loss of a mother....

That is what she was sorry for, that and for one thing more....

Before all this mayhem began, Coop was just starting to fit together the pieces of his tumultuous life. The simple ups and downs of regular military survival.... loyalty, duty, dignity, honour, and shit, some days just plain existence....

But if a certain InVitro was still as cynical as he was at the beginning of his sojourn with the 5-8, one could almost believe the whole deplorable process was instigated solely for the purpose of putting one solitary tank back in his place, before he had further feelings of a family life or God forbid, delusions of grandeur.

And now, as the result of one well placed, ill-timed bomb, poor Coop stood on the precipice of reverting back to the way he was before he learned the ways of trust.. Trying to be a square peg attempting to fit in a round hole. At home in naught but a distorted reality. This must not be allowed. Also Vansen knew she had to stop this from happening again in the time to come and the only way she knew how was to pave the way for that dreaded misfortune..

Shane could almost see the wheels turning in Hawkes' mind.

"Yeah, but getting downed wasn't your fault, Shane.. no need for you to take the flack about it" Cold silence permeates all around. Hawkes sharpens his glare, trying to read her face in the dim mess.

"Coop, I'm not just apologizing for the past".. she inhales as deep as possible..

"I was apologizing for the future as well, for the day when I, too, will have to leave you all on your own. When I, like McQueen, must unwittingly leave you to fend for yourself."

An unbelieving watery gaze was her only reply.. He took this calmer than she anticipated, right about now she had envisioned one almighty tantrum.

"Coop, it's not that we don't want to be with you, but.... shit happens Coop, look at McQueen, but know he'll never forget you, never.. and neither will I."

He reached out to touch her face with a tenderness not usually connected to Invitros as she continued. Maybe he was maturing more than she realized.

"And when that future comes Coop, next week, next year, ten years from now, I know ( as McQueen is undoubtedly assured ) that you'll be fine, you'll grieve, but you'll survive. You'll rise above all the hurt, pain, trouble and woe dealt you in this life to overcome any obstacle because you are so special Cooper Hawkes.. You may not think so now but..." she smiled at him reassuringly

"I believe in you.... as does he! " Cooper wrapped her in a bear hug and and she could hear was a sinlge shuddering sob, as he squeezed her tight. Then he pulled back to look at her.. "Thanks Shane.... I.... " he still stumbled over the words.. So she answered,

"Yeah I know Coop" standing ,she gestured to the hatch, " I think we should get some sleep don't you?" Both walked back to their quarters in silence, there was a lot to think about.. The healing process had begun...

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